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Philadelphia. Photo: Getty Images. 
Philadelphia. Photo: Getty Images. 

Built By Philly, new platform aims to address historical inequities for city’s BIPOC entrepreneurs

The new site provides diverse entrepreneurs to connect and grow through better access to capital, services and customers in the region by amplifying their…

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The United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ) has launched a new platform to amplify the voices of BIPOC entrepreneurs in the region and address some long standing challenges faced by the BIPOC business community.

“Built By Philly,” is an initiative of UWGPSNJ, in partnership with the City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce and PIDC, to remove the barriers that have prevented many people of color from starting, growing and scaling their businesses. 

During a virtual event on Tuesday, Nov. 16, the official launch of the platform was revealed as a directory of business owners from the region featuring videos of the challenges and experiences facing diverse entrepreneurs of color in the city, as stated by the entrepreneurs themselves. 

“The site will soon become a central hub that connects entrepreneurs and small businesses to resources and opportunities,” said Michael Banks, Managing Director of Employment, Opportunity & Entrepreneurship of UWGPSNJ during the virtual event.

The launch of the new site is one of the several outcomes of the May 2021 Philadelphia Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Assessment, which assesses the state of BIPOC entrepreneurship in Philadelphia.

The report states that while Black and Latinx Philadelphians account for 44% and 17% of the city’s population, they only own about 5% and 4% of small businesses, respectively.

In addition, the pandemic disproportionately harmed BIPOC businesses. 

Between February 2020 to April 2020, the number of small businesses fell by 22% overall, while Black-owned businesses fell by 41% and Latino-owned businesses fell by 32%, respectively. 

Banks noted weaker finances and bank relationships, and uneven breaches of government aid among the reasons. 

Jennifer Rodriguez, President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, highlighted the Hispanic business community in the city.

“Despite having the highest startup rates before the pandemic, Hispanic entrepreneurs have been underrepresented and underserved in the city’s ecosystem,” she said. 

Rodriguez noted that many face structural challenges and lack of access to resources, networks and capital that are necessary to succeed as additional reasons for those inequities.

The report provided solutions in four key areas: access to capital, market opportunities, ecosystem infrastructure and trusted services.

“The site ties the research and report to the real stories around entrepreneurship in the city,” said James Johnson-Piett, Principal and CEO of Urbane. “Their ideas and recommendations are here to nuance the solutions that are ultimately going to be born from this initiative.”

During the virtual event, it was announced that this initiative is being funded by a $750,000 grant from JP Morgan Chase as part of its ongoing commitment to improving racial equity in diverse communities.

The grant will help the UWGPSNJ begin implementing some of the solutions to improving Philadelphia’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. 

For more information on the “Built By Philly” platform, click here

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